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Colombia: Tweeting the May 30 Presidential Elections

Although politics have been the main talk of the day on social networks in Colombia in the last few months, with the March 14 and the upcoming May 30 elections, activity intensifies in the mornings, when radio networks interview the candidates or the politicians who support them, looking for ‘interesting’ remarks, or when a debate is being broadcast on television or streamed online.

Juan Manuel Santos and Antanas Mockus are the front-runners, but analysts and some people agree that the best performers on debates are centre-right Germán Vargas Lleras, liberal Rafael Pardo and left-wing Gustavo Petro (coincidentally or not, the three have been or are Congressmen). Unfortunately for them, televised debates have little influence [es] in voters’ decision, as opinion polls show. This view is also shared by some on Twitter (most of the context of this post can be found on our May 26 piece on Colombian elections), despite some criticism [es].

Here is a sampling of tweets by Colombians, which cover a wide range of election subjects:

Cesar Mejia (@Kareq):

Da tristeza que los 3 candidatos mas inteligentes vayan tan quedados, maldita democracia de exitos heredados y candidatos hypeados

It's really sad that the 3 smartest candidates have little support, damn democracy with inherited successes and hyped candidates

Paula Vejarano (@Asmodeo_):

Pardo, Vargas Lleras y Petro tienen claro el asunto. Hicieron una buena exposición de sus ideas, y no están tan pifiados.

Pardo, Vargas Lleras, and Petro are clear about the issues. They exposed their ideas very well, and they're not that wrong

@egolaxista

Petro no debería hacer campaña sino debate permanente. Ganaría en primera vuelta.

Petro shouldn't campaign but debate constantly. He'd win in the first round.

Maria Velasco (@AzulesMarinos):

Los 3 serios hablan de temas serios, propuesta programáticas y hacen buen debate. Ninguno de ellos ganara.

The 3 serious ones talk about serious issues, government programs and are good debaters. None of them will win.

On Mockus alleged “atheism”:

Ivan Andrade (@IvanLecter):

Que creer o no en Dios sea un argumento para escoger candidato demuestra que seguimos en la Edad Media.

That believing or not believing in God is an argument to choose a candidate shows we're still in the Middle Ages.

Fidel Cano (@fidelcanoco):

¿y en qué puede afectar la capacidad para gobernar un país que alguien crea o no en algún dios?

regarding what the fact someone believes or not in some god may affect [someone's] ability to rule a country?

Mauricio Londono (@MauroLondono):

si el no cree en el ser que creo el universo,como pretende ser lider del pais del sagrado corazon?pasandose a Dios por la….?

if he doesn't believe in the being who created the universe, how does he expect to be the leader of the Country of the Sacred Heart? by ignoring Him?

Camilo Andrés García (@hyperconectado)

¿Y ahora que Mockus dijo que era Católico los ateos que lo siguen no votarán por él?. Cambió de religión en menos de dos semanas. :O

And now that Mockus said he's a Catholic, the atheists who support him will now not vote for him? He switched religions in less than two weeks :O

On Santos’ confession of having smoked marijuana in college:

@elchiflamicas

Santos dijo que había fumado marihuana en la universidad para que le creamos que fue a la universidad.

Santos said he had smoked marijuana in college so that we would believe he did attend college.

Mónica Echeverría (@monicaeche)

En los consejos de redacción de El Tiempo y El Espectador, se deben fumar varios porros, prueba de ello es la importancia q le dan al tema.

They must smoke a lot of pot in the newsrooms of El Tiempo and El Espectador, because of the importance they give to the issue.

Lanark (@donAlvar):

Chichipatos. Yo voto por el que se inyecte heroína.

So stingy. I'll vote for the one who uses heroin.

Most twitterers bashed Conservative Party candidate Noemí Sanín for her poor performance in debates:

Sylvia J. Rojas (@Polexia):

Votar Noemí por q es mujer, es cometer el error de los americanos al votar Obama por negro…o los bolivianos al votar por Evo por indígena

Voting for Noemí because she's a woman would be making the same mistake Americans made for those that voted for Obama because he's black… or Bolivians who voted for Evo [Morales] just because he's indigenous

Paula Vejarano (@Asmodeo_):

¿cuándo será el día que ‘ser mujer’ no sea el ‘valor’ a destacar en una mujer dedicada a la política?

When will be the day when ‘being a woman’ won't be the remarkable ‘value’ in a woman involved in politics?

On Mockus remarks and constant clarifications on his mis-statements:

Ivan Andrade (@IvanLecter):

Claro que uno puede retract[a]rse y rectificar. El lío es que eso quita credibilidad.

Of course you can retract and clarify. The problem is that takes away from [your] credibility.

Cristina Vélez (@CristinaVelezV):

[¿]Cuándo se podrán hacer chistes sobre Mockus sin que la gente lo mire a uno feo?

When will we be able to make Mockus jokes without people giving you a bad look?

On the “green wave” and the “dirty politics”:

Norman (@Jormanks)”

No mas #olaverde en twitter. Transladenla a las calles. A la proxima que, novena?

No more #greenwave on twitter. Take it to the streets. What's next, a novena?

Pablo Abitbol (@Pabloabitbol):

Muy interesante ver cómo un partido que fundamenta su plataforma política en la razón apela constantemente a lo sagrado como argumento.

It's pretty interesting to see how a party whose political platform is based on reason constantly appeals to the sacred as an argument

@Tefa_

Paradójicamente, son más respetuosos los santistas y mucho menos intensos que la gente de la ola verde

Ironically, Santos's supporters are more respectful and less annoying than the people of the green wave [Mockus supporters]

Daniel Arango (@stultaviro):

He tenido la oportunidad de ver en primera fila el derrumbe del mito Obama y pienso que algo similar ocurrirá con la ola verde.

I've been able to see first hand the collapse of the Obama myth, and I think something similar will happen with the green wave

Of course, other concerns would appear:

Sebastian Fajardo (@elcondorherido):

#yovotaria por alguien que entienda que un campesino es social y económicamente tan importante como un PhD

#iwouldvote for someone who understands that a peasant is socially and economically as important as a PhD

Adrian Lanzziano (@dobleZZeta):

Cual será el Presidente de Colombia que hará algo por el Chocó?. Todos la visitan en época electoral, se maravillan, pero nunca hacen nada..

Who will be the President of Colombia who will do something for [western Afro-Colombian department] Chocó? Everyone visits it when campaigning, wonder at it, but never do anything..

Strong criticism to the Colombian democracy [es], media coverage of the debates [es] (the family of Juan Manuel Santos is stockholder of Colombia's main newspaper) or the forced absence in the debates of minor candidates [es] also were voiced. Some users were outed for their tireless proselytism, such as pro-Santos @Felibertino or pro-Mockus @laurigarzon.

Finally, an article on a decree (Decreto 1800 de 2010) by the Interior Ministry on security measures for the election day was panned by journalists [es] —which called it “censorship”— and twitterers (even mocking and challenging minister Fabio Valencia Cossio). The article 9 of the decree states that only public order information “confirmed by official sources” can be reproduced by the media, which may tamper with the impact of initiatives such as Ushahidi-powered Elecciones Transparentes or simple denouncements of vote-buying and other irregularities on election day by people in Twitter or Facebook.

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